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EMBASSY OF IMAGINATION:
Embassy of Imagination (EOI) is a socially engaged art practice comprised of youth from Kinngait (Cape Dorset, NU) and PA System (Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson). Long-time EOI artists and youth mentors are Cie Taqiasuk and Parr Josephee. EOI animates yearly art workshops, and creates collaborative community art projects, including public murals, performances, and exhibitions, within Kinngait, across Canada and internationally. The youth have an important voice as individual artists, and collectively, contributing to Indigenous place-making and challenging the expectations for youth-engaged art. EOI is a reciprocal sharing of knowledge and ideas, expressing cross-cultural collaboration and shared human experience as an embodied practice and in material form. The ongoing project, Future Snowmachines in Kinngait, is creating the real change of beginning a land-program for youth through acquiring equipment with art sales and commissions and an ongoing partnership with the community-elected District Education Authority. EOI projects have been supported by Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, the West-Baffin Eskimo Co-op, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Government of Nunavut. EOI has exhibited at the Art Gallery of Ontario, The Theatre Centre in Toronto, and the National Maritime Museum in London, UK.
Kinngait has a remarkable roster of artists and arts economy (http://www.dorsetfinearts.com/history-of-wbec/), but the community has long lacked consistent programming for youth. In a territory that has complex challenges and lacks employment opportunity, artistically inclined youth must be supported. Kinngait youth have an abundance of talent, personality and life experience to contribute creatively to their community, Canada and the world. EOI provides young Kinngait artists with workshops for art forms that they are interested in but cannot otherwise access. Youth artists also get opportunities to travel and share their art and culture at large. EOI’s landmark public mural projects in Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa comprised of extraordinary drawings by the youth artists and painted by the youth artists, have been celebrated as incredible gifts to their host cities.
EOI projects have been supported by Nunavut Arts and Crafts Association, the West-Baffin Eskimo Co-op, Canada Council for the Arts, Ontario Arts Council, Canadian Heritage, The W. Garfield Weston Foundation, Taking IT Global, Inuit Tapiriit Kanatami and the Government of Nunavut.
"There is no doubt that Embassy of Imagination continues to inspire self-empowerment among youth in the north through fostering creativity and fun. As a representative for Cape Dorset, I would like to express my sincere gratitude this group has dedicated to the well-being of the community."
-David Joanasie, MLA South Baffin, Minister of Education
FOUNDERS + FACILITATORS:
EOI is lead by visual artists Alexa Hatanaka and Patrick Thompson. Hatanaka and Thompson have worked on several visual art projects in the arctic for ten years. They have created well-loved murals in the hamlets of Igloolik, Cape Dorset, Iqaluit, and Hall Beach, as well as in the Northern Quebec towns of Kangiqsujuaq, Kuujjuaq and Inukjuak. They have facilitated youth projects at York University, the Wabano Centre for Aboriginal Health, and the National Gallery.
Hatanaka and Thompson work under the collective name PA System. They exhibit their artwork in institutions worldwide, such as the Royal Ontario Museum, the Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona, the Canada House in London and the Art Gallery of Ontario. They have created public artwork across Canada and around the world.
Hatanaka and Thompson would like to express their gratitude to Kinngait for welcoming them, and making their lives full.
YOUTH MENTOR ARTISTS:
Parr Josephee is from Cape Dorset, Nunavut. He is the namesake of one of the first and most prolific graphic artists from Cape Dorset, his great-grandfather Parr Parr. He is also the son of the renowned, innovative carver Isacci Etidloie. Parr paints, prints, draws, and makes skateboards.
In 2015, Josephee collaborated with three other young Cape Dorset artists and Embassy of Imagination (EOI) on the unprecedented 50’ mural Piliriqatigiingniq in Toronto during the Pan Am Games. Josephee also represented Cape Dorset on the 2015 Students on Ice expedition to Greenland. He will graduate from Oasis Skateboard Factory in 2017. He is a mentor to younger artists, as he forges a future for himself living between the north and the south.
Cie Taqiasuk is from Cape Dorset, Nunavut. He comes from a family of carvers. He too carves in soapstone, as well as draws, paints, and creates original relief prints.
In 2015, Taqiasuk collaborated with three other young Cape Dorset artists and Embassy of Imagination (EOI) on the unprecedented 50’ mural Piliriqatigiingniq in Toronto during the Pan Am Games. His artwork represents Nunavut as part of the Canada 150 Project Maple Wish by Taking IT Global and the Winnipeg Art Gallery. He is a mentor to younger artists and he lives in Cape Dorset, Nunavut.
WHERE IS CAPE DORSET?
Cape Dorset (Kinngait) is an Inuit hamlet on Dorset Island at the southern tip of Baffin Island in Nunavut, Canada. It is a fly-in community, and sure is worth a visit.